St John the Evangelist Anglican Church Oakmont PA.



OUR PATRON SAINT: ST JOHN, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST

Feast: December 27


St John The Evangelist, who is styled in the gospel, The beloved disciple of Christ," and is called by the Greeks "The Divine," and is variously known as “the Apostle,” the “Theologian,” and “of Patmos,” was a Galilean, the son of Zebedee and Salome, and younger brother of St. James the Great, with whom he was brought up to the trade of fishing.

Before his coming to Christ he seems to have been a disciple to John the Baptist, several thinking him to have been that other disciple that was with St. Andrew when they left the Baptist to follow our Savior; so particularly does our Evangelist relate all the circumstances, through modestly concealing his own name, as in other parts of the gospel. He was called to be a disciple of our Lord, with his brother James, as they were mending their nets on the same day, and soon after Jesus had called Peter and Andrew. These two brothers continued still to follow their profession, but upon seeing the miraculous draught of fishes, they left all things to attach themselves more closely to him.

Christ gave them the surname of Boanerges, or “sons of thunder,” to express both their passionate tempers and the strength and activity of their faith in publishing the law of God without fearing the power of man. This epithet has been particularly applied to St. John, who was truly a voice of thunder in proclaiming aloud the most sublime mysteries of the divinity of Christ. He is said to have been the youngest of all the apostles, probably about twenty-five years of age, when he was called by Christ and it is believed that he lived seventy years after the suffering of his divine Master. His piety, wisdom, and prudence equaled in his youth those with grey hairs. Our divine Redeemer had a particular affection for him above the rest of the apostles; insomuch that when St. John speaks of himself, he proclaims that he was "The disciple whom Jesus loved.”

It appears from the familiarity and intimacy with which his divine Master favored him that he was placed above the rest of the apostles. Christ would have him with Peter and James privy to his Transfiguration, and to his agony in the garden; and he showed St. John particular instances of kindness and affection above all the rest. Witness this apostle's lying in our Savior's bosom at the Last Supper.

John seems to have accompanied Christ through all his sufferings; at least he attended him during his crucifixion, standing under his cross, owning him in the midst of arms and guards, and in the thickest crowds of his implacable enemies. Here it was that our Lord declared the assurance he had of this disciple's affection and fidelity, by recommending with his dying words, his holy mother to his care; giving him the charge to love, honor, comfort, and provide for her with that dutifulness and attention which the character of the best and most indulgent mother challenges from an obedient and loving son. What more honorable testimony could Christ have given him of his confidence, regard, and affection, than this charge?

When Mary Magdalen and other devout women brought word that they had not found Christ's body in the sepulchre, Peter and John ran, but John, who was younger and more nimble, ran faster, arrived first at the place. Some few days after this, St. John was fishing in the lake of Tiberias with other disciples when Jesus appeared on the shore in a disguised form. St. John, directed by the instinct of love, knew him and gave notice to Peter: they all dined with him on the shore; and when dinner was ended, Christ walked along the shore questioning Peter about the sincerity of his love, gave him the charge of his church, and foretold his martyrdom. St. Peter seeing St. John walk behind, and being solicitous for his friend, asked Jesus what would become of him; supposing that as Christ testified a particular love for him, he would show him some extraordinary favor. Christ checked Peter’s curiosity by telling him that it was not his business if he should prolong John's life till he should come; which most understand of his coming to destroy Jerusalem; an epoch which St. John survived. Some of the disciples, however, misapprehended this answer so far as to infer that John would remain in the body till Christ shall come to judge the world. St. John seems to have remained chiefly at Jerusalem for a long time, though he sometimes preached abroad, particularly amongst the Churches of Asia. In many other churches which he founded, it is even probable that in the course of his long life, he put bishops into all the churches of Asia, While the apostles lived, they supplied the churches with bishops of their own appointing by the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and by virtue of their commission to plant the church.

In the second general persecution, in the year 95, St. John was apprehended by the proconsul of Asia and sent to Rome, where he was miraculously preserved from death when thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. On account of this trial, the title of martyr is given him by the Church Fathers, who say that thus was fulfilled what Christ had foretold him--that he should drink of his cup. The idolaters, who pretended to account for such miracles by sorcery, blinded themselves to this evidence, and Domitian banished St. John into the isle of Patmos. In his retirement the apostle was favored with heavenly visions which he has recorded in the canonical book of the Revelations, or of the Apocalypse. The first three chapters are evidently a prophetic instruction given to seven neighboring churches of Asia Minor, and to the bishops who governed them. The three last chapters celebrate the triumph of Christ, the judgment and reward of his saints. The intermediate chapters are variously expounded. By these visions God gave St. John a prospect of the future state of the church.

The charity, which our great saint was penetrated with and practiced himself, he constantly and most affectionately pressed upon others. It is the great vein that runs through his sacred writings, especially his epistles, where he urges it as the great and peculiar law of Christianity, without which all pretensions to this divine religion are vain and frivolous, useless and insignificant: and this was his constant practice to his dying day. St. Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him at Ephesus, so that he was no longer able to preach or make long discourses to the people, he was always carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words, "My dear children, love one another." When his hearers, wearied with hearing constantly the same thing, asked him why he always repeated the same words, he replied, "Because it is the precept of the Lord, and if you comply with it, you do enough.” St. John died in peace at Ephesus, the saint being then about ninety-four years old, according to St. Epiphanius.